EAST LIVERPOOL - People who only know Jerry Springer from his nationally syndicated talk show and other television appearances would likely have been surprised by the man who spoke at a rally and fundraiser for the Columbiana County Democratic Party Friday evening at the East Liverpool Motor Lodge.
Springer was very serious indeed when discussing the Supreme Court's upholding of the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act, also known as Obamacare. He commended President Barack Obama for ignoring those within the Democratic Party who warned of a political price that may be extracted in November.
"It is the decent, human thing to do, and we as Americans should all be supportive of it," he said. Putting a human dimension on the question, Springer said, "Everybody in this country, unless you're super rich, is one diagnosis away from a pre-existing condition. Everyone is one disease away from bankruptcy."
Nine-year-old Casey Johnson of Salem, far left, poses for a picture with Jerry Springer at the Get Out and Vote Rally at East Liverpool Motor Lodge.
He contrasted what he characterized the top achievement of the Obama Administration with Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and other Republicans' vow to overturn the law at the first opportunity. "Forget politics," he said. "Just as a human being, how do you go home and say, 'Boy, I'm so proud! Today, I took this health insurance away from people!'"
Springer also pointed out that every member of Congress, including those who opposed the law, has free government-provided health care at taxpayer cost. "How dare they use our tax dollars to take care of their families, and then say to 30 million Americans [without health insurance], '(Forget) you.'"
Springer, referencing recent opinion polls, believes that it will be a very tight race for Democrats in November, but gives a slim advantage to the president on the basis that, as the months pass, people will be less likely to vote for candidates who have pledged to rescind a law that provides them with health coverage that they may not have been eligible for previously. "I think that, in the end, will be the deciding factor," he said.
Dennis Johnson, chairman of the Columbiana County Democratic Party, said that people hear his name and think immediately of his TV show, but that when it comes to politics, he is a serious and passionate person. "He knows Ohio, and I'm very honored that he's come in," he said. "He knows the issues, knows what we're up against, but we're thrilled that he's here."
Springer, who describes himself as a lifelong Democrat, served as mayor of Cincinnati and on city council in the 1970s, with unsuccessful bids for Congress in 1970 and for the Democratic nomination for governor in 1982. Since then, his zeal for politics remains, as the East Liverpool appearance is one of many he will make around the country in support of local Democratic parties and issues.
Springer said that his celebrity image has never harmed his ability to express his political message. In fact, he asserted that it has only helped his efforts.
"It gives me notoriety, which is why I get invited to these things in the first place," he said. "When you talk politics, it gets serious. If they didn't take me seriously, they wouldn't invite me."